La Conciergerie: A History


A Castle With a Dark History

I'm a fan about learning about the French Revolution as much as the next French person. In 6th grade I wrote a paper about the guillotine, my family should have seen my strange fascinations with history coming from there. So when I know there's a French Revolution site, I gotta visit it, which is the reason that I went and visited the Conciergerie. Once a castle, it turned into a prison when the kings left and is famous for holding Marie Antoinette in her last days. So here's the story about the Conciergerie.

Palais de la Cité

The Conciergerie was originally a medieval castle, home of Louis IX. Louis IX became Saint Louis after his death and many parts of Paris carry his name. The Conciergerie was originally called the Palais de la Cité because of its central location and how important it was to the rulers. Right next to the palace, la Sainte Chapelle was built for Saint Louis.

Saint Louis

An Abandoned Castle

Eventually, the kings moved to the Palais du Louvre, abandoning the Palais de la Cité. The castle was kept open and became known as the Conciergerie for all the duties that it carried out on behalf of the king.

A Prison

Even before the French Revolution, part of the Conciergerie was converted to a prison. While it still operated as the Conciergerie to the king, it became more and more involved with keeping prisoners. But of course, the most famous would come during the French Revolution.

Inside the Castle

The Guillotine

During the French Revolution, the Conciergerie was taken over by the revolutionaries and it became purely a prison. No more administrative duties for the king because there was no more king. It became known as the "holding cell to the guillotine" since most people there were sent to the guillotine after some time. This is where the last days of Marie Antoinette were spent before being separated from her head. In the last century, the Conciergerie has turned into a museum so that people could see an old french palace, and more importantly, where the last days of Marie Antoinette were spent.

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